My family buried a great man today. My great uncle Frank slipped quietly into the arms of Jesus early Sunday morning.
He was 93. Uncle Frank taught me how to garden and even bought me all my first plants when I was about 12. Tomatoes, peppers, zuchinni, eggplant… He was thrilled to teach me more about his passion for growing food.
He was enamored by the simple things in life- how amazing it was that one could put a seed into the ground and after some time and care, that seed became a plant that bore fruit. He said that year after year. His son joked today at the funeral that while the flowers at the altar were beautiful, his dad would have been equally pleased, if not moreso, with large arrangements of burdock, dandelion, and mustard greens.
My uncle Frank was a veteran of WW2, just like my grandfather was and countless others from that generation. The coffin was draped with an American flag, men in uniform gave a salute, taps was played.
We filed past Uncle Frank’s casket and out of the mosaleum. Everyone got into their cars and headed out for the breakfast at a local banquet hall.
I went to get into my car, but thought better of it. I walked the fifty yards or so to Uncle Frank’s waiting grave, next to my grandfather’s.
Brother in laws.
Side by side.
I looked at the tombstones, which I remember them deciding on and buying together. I remember the disagreements over inscriptions, how Frank and Anna’s tombstone would say “Together Forever” and that my grandmother wanted that on hers too… but my grandfather thought it was too sappy.
I smiled, even as I stood at the foot of my grandfather’s grave, becuase I knew he wasn’t there. He was absent from the body, but present with the Lord.
And now Uncle Frank is too. Standing on his own two feet, perfect, whole.